Cake Stories: Jesmond’s equivalent to Heaven.



If you live in Newcastle then chances are you have heard of Cake Stories, on Brentwood Avenue. For my final year of uni I have lived literally seconds from this place, and for a good month (I like to change this up regularly) it was probably my favourite creative writing spot. Tea, cake, creative writing. What more do you need?

Cake stories is adorable. Literally, it makes you want to go ‘awwww!’ every time you walk in. It’s not fluffy and pink by any strength of the imagination, just cozy and welcoming. There is a cabinet of cakes laid on trays at the back of the shop, each cake cut into a square and decorated elegantly. They once made unicorn cake, which I am told was very colourful, but I unfortunately didn’t get to try it. The staff are more than happy to recommend you a cake, because trust me: you will struggle to decide. I recommend the Maple-Pecan, the Red Velvet, Zesty Lemon, Cherry Bakewell, or Mocha. That sounds a lot of options, but there are many, many more than that. They make cake sundaes too. And you can get ice cream with anything. Anything. Cake Stories also serve breakfasts and lunches, including avocado on toast or beans on toast, which are two of my personal favourite options when eating out for breakfast or brunch.

Teas. Cake Stories does tea really well. Try the Cherry-Almond Rooibos (I think that’s what it was called, whatever it was, it was delicious). Expect a cute cup and tea pot, and loose leaf tea- and milk in a miniature milk bottle too. Coffees taste great, and I recommend the cappuccino. Before I leave Newcastle I am determined to get myself an iced coffee from here too, as I hear they are extremely good.

If you can then get yourself to Cake Stories on an evening, then this is when you should go. Most evenings they are open until 9:30pm. At this point the fairy-lights and bulbs hanging from the ceiling are on, and everything becomes 100x cosier- from the massive shelf of tea jars, to the mismatched vintage-y furniture, to the smell of cakes and coffee. A lot of students seem to bring work here on an evening for a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, or dump the work and come to catch up with friends after a long day. But in-case you can’t get a table, they do cake to go, so there’s really no excuse not to try it.


5 More Newcastle Eateries You NEED To Try…

This week it is actually Newcastle Restaurant Week, and so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate four more brilliant places to eat by the Tyne. You can read some of my other recommendations right here, and if you’re local to Newcastle, then do let me know of anywhere I should be trying in the comments. Next on my bucket list has to be The Butterfly Cabinet, Shijo, and the new Chaophraya in Eldon Square- if you’ve tried these places already then feel free to recommend something I should be trying off of the menu!


This is a brunch spot you don’t want to miss during a trip to Newcastle. It’s located in West Jesmond, outside of the city centre, but only a 20 minute walk, or a 5 minute metro ride. I haven’t tried the lunch menu here, but I wholeheartedly recommend you get yourself there for brunch- and order the avo and egg on toast with chilli jam, the granary bread with eggs and a side of salmon, or – my personal favourite- the porridge. The porridge is seasonal, and so in summer it had blueberries, honey, and bee pollen on it, and in winter the combination of banana, hazelnuts, honey, and bee pollen. I have a full review of Arlo’s right here.


Mantra Thai

This is the best Thai restaurant in Newcastle, but many I’ve spoken to didn’t know it existed because it’s tucked away behind the central station, just five minutes walk towards the quayside. This is my favourite pick of the restaurants in this post. The food is beautiful: lots of fish dishes and veggie dishes (meat lovers, there’s lots for you too), perfect flavour combinations, and friendly staff. They also make lovely cocktails. My recommendations are the steamed seabass fillets (the sauce is amazing), the mixed seafood grill, the jasmine rice, and the coconut crumbed deep fried banana with ice cream for dessert.




This is my most recent discovery. Again, located literally next to the quayside, I was fairly hesitant to share this one as I wanted to keep it to myself! However, I needed to tell you all what a beautiful place it is. More of a girl’s brunch/coffee trip out location, the inside is exactly what the name ‘Violet’s’ brings to mind. Soft and relaxed décor, cakes under glass jars, a little fire in the corner…the staff are excellent, the food service is fast, and they have a great range of teas. I have yet to try the smoked salmon and egg waffle here, but the friend I went with ordered the seasonal fruits waffle with lemon-mascarpone cream, and it came with edible flowers too. Absolutely beautiful, and a lot of care and attention put into the food.



Unfortunately I don’t have a picture for this, but Scalini’s provides great value Italian food. It’s located on Osbourne Road in Jesmond, so it’s a great pick for any students living in the area. Best time to visit is early evening, and I suggest you try the pizzas or pastas- especially the arrabbiata with king prawns. It’s very laid back, and the staff are friendly (I never revisit a place if the staff aren’t friendly, to be honest). Perfect if you’re wanting a chilled evening with great value Italian food. They also serve tapas, although I can’t comment on this as I haven’t tried it – yet.


The Herb Garden

One of the best pizza places in Newcastle. You can’t book here, but turn over is pretty fast, so you won’t have to wait long. And don’t stop at just the pizza- the salads are incredible, and they switch them up every now and again to keep things fresh. Wraps are also on the menu, and The Herb Garden does a great trade with officer workers nearby, as these wraps are great “to go” food. The ceiling is hung with hundreds of lights, and herbs literally grown in the walls here, in hydroponic cylinders. Full review right here!


There you go, five more places serving up delicious food in the Newcastle area- now you know about them you can get booking your table, and let me know your pick in the comments below!



Arlo’s Café & Bistro: Review

wp-1476299752207.jpgWhen my flatmates and I moved into our current home I immediately knew that we may not have chosen the best location. Because we live in very close proximity to a great second hand book shop, a mini-supermarket, a frozen yoghurt shop, sushi place, a Starbucks, cake and tea and coffee shop, Indian street kitchen I have yet to try- and Arlo’s. Ah, Arlo’s. This is where my money is currently going.

Arlo is a café and bistro on Brentwood Avenue, in the West Jesmond area. And it does one of the best brunches in the city. It’s decorated in a quirky-cool alpine fashion, with plenty of fairy lights, and blankets in case you choose to sit outside.

Arlo’s opens fairly early in the morning, which is ideal if you’re an early bird, or if – like me- you are someone who wakes up hungry, and get hangry within half an hour. Luckily, the brunch menu is amazing. Although Arlo open as a bistro in the evening- and serve amazing cakes all day long- I haven’t yet eaten there on an evening. So, this review will be centring around brunch. Although my flatmate, also sucked into the Arlo trap, has been for tea, and said the chicken burger more than lived up to expectations.

My personal recommendations from the brunch menu are: the avocado and egg on toast with chilli jam, the veggie brunch, or the hen’s eggs on toast with smoked salmon added. Because you can’t beat good quality toast with proper butter. If none of these sound appealing, then Arlo also make scones, waffles, teacakes, granola, and sausage stotties. The porridge is also something I can recommend, though it could use more berries. Continue reading

The Herb Garden (restaurant review)

I have a new favourite place to eat- and it involves pizza. The Herb Garden is a place I have been meaning to try for close to a year now, and on my twentieth birthday I finally did. Because when your family offer to take you out for a meal, as a perpetually cash strapped student, you don’t say no.
Located near Newcastle Central Station, opposite Newcastle Castle, The Herb Garden defines itself as a ‘Pizza Kitchen’- which is fairly obvious from the minute you walk in. To the right is a pizza making station with two stone oven for creating that perfect crispy base. The menu comprises some thirteen different pizzas, and two different calzones- and they also cater to vegans, which is fairly unusual, and refreshing change, as even though veganism is on the rise, it still hasn’t quite taken off north of the capital. To my mind, the word “pizza” is synonymous with loads of gooey cheese. And though the pizza my dad ordered (the ‘Happy Ham’ pizza) did come with mozzarella and a creamy ricotta, and did live up to the gooey, cheesy dreams you may have surrounding pizza- I saw the vegan ones comes out of the kitchen and they looked amazing. Colourful, and packed with vegetables. As I’m not a big fan of lashings of cheese, I will possibly end up ordering one of these  the next time I visit.
Whilst we’re on the topic of pizza, The Herb Garden do brunch. Pizza-themed Sunday brunch. If you head on over to their website (I’ll leave a link at the bottom), then you’ll see that there are four pizzas on offer. From chocolate, hazelnut, banana, honey, and vanilla ice-cream- to sausage, parsley, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, ricotta, egg and rocket. The other two on available are a salted-caramel-come-pecan-pie, and one topped with spicy tomato, egg, and hummus. As my flatmate has just finished exams, and is planning on partying whilst I finish mine, I may take her here to soothe her hangover- although she possibly wont make it there in time for brunch.
But moving on from pizza, The Herb Garden also do equally good wraps, salads, and a range of non-pizza specials (as well as a special pizza). My brother opted for the fillet steak wrap, and my mum went for a chicken and homemade pesto wrap. If you’re expecting small portions here: don’t. The wraps were great value for money, but also didn’t end up lacking in quality in order to achieve this. The Herb Garden balance quality and quantity perfectly.

My family and I really covered all of the bases at this meal, because I chose the Swanky Salmon & Kinky Quinoa Salad (you’ll notice the love of fun names here when you look at the menu). Usually, when I order salad I end up finishing before everyone else, and wishing that there had been a little more on my plate. Unfortunately, most places assume that when a girl orders a salad, she’s on a diet. The Herb Garden do not. Again, perfect portion sizes, perfectly cooked salmon, and perfect combination of flavours in there. As we left I saw the Super-food Salad going out though, complete with edible flowers, and I have to admit- I nearly wished that I’d ordered that. Although, to be fair, I was also eye-ing up my dad’s pizza. Although not on their webpage, The Herb Garden do sell desserts (a variety of ice creams, tiramisu, a veggie/vegan suitable citrus flavour mousse of some sort, a chocolate pot- and many more), as well as a range of cocktails, to finish up your meal.

Last- but certainly not least- waiting time, service, staff, and décor. The staff were all very friendly, very helpful, and didn’t forget to bring us water to the table when we’d asked (which, believe me, a lot of places seem to do)- the water was even infused with cucumber. We didn’t have a long wait for food at all- perhaps 15 or 20 minutes. And the décor…there are tonnes of round hot-air-balloon-style lights hanging from the ceiling, it feels very calm and casual on a lunch time (its different when people hit the cocktail menu of a Friday night). On one wall they are in the process of growing their own herbs using a series of metal barrels and hydroponics.

You can’t book unless you’re making use of their private dining area (eight people and over), which means that The Herb Garden is ideal for walk-ins. They also do takeaway, so feel free to grab food and head down to the quayside, which is just five minutes walk away.

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally try this amazing restaurant, and also that not many people seem to know its there- but I will definitely be back soon.

Newcastle Eateries You Need To Try…

All day brunches with a student discount are pretty much the only reasons you need to visit this quirky- cool spot. Chilled atmosphere, friendly staff, and (of course) amazing food. Try the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on sourdough, the sticky toffee pudding (if its the dessert of the day), the natural smoked haddock with poached eggs, and the sweet potato fries. Ernest also do music nights and film nights, plus daily specials in the way of salads, soups, and desserts.
Naked Deli
If you’re on the vegan/veggie/paleo/clean bandwagon- or just want DELICIOUS raw cakes, smoothies and pre-packed lunches, then head to the Naked Deli stand in Fenwicks. If you can get to the flagship deli in Heaton then go, but this is still a great option if you’re in the centre of town. Try the raw snickers bar, or the raw carrot cake.
The Scrumpy Willow
Veggie, vegan, and omnivore food, lovely juices, coffees and teas. This is also a great option for non-raw veggie and vegan cakes, such as cupcakes, or scones. Omnivores can head here too, as they make a great full English, BLT, and also offer fish dishes. It’s relaxed, quiet, and the perfect solo breakfast spot. Try the soup with homemade bread, anything with poached eggs, the veggie breakfast, baked beans on toast, or the sardines on toast- all homemade. I head here when I need a hangover brunch, or a quiet spot to do some course reading, but also eat something delicious at the same time.
A favourite with Newcastle Uni’s student population, as it’s on the doorstep of our campus. Serving tea, cake, lunches (including stotties), and also breakfasts. Quilliam’s is open until 1am, and so makes for a perfect late night library sesh wind-down. Especially once the fairylights are turned on. They also have a cinema room downstairs with bean bags- do not turn down the opportunity to go at least once. Try: Nutella and banana pancakes, peanut butter brownie, chocolate banana cake (vegan), iced latte, snowdrop tea, and the salads.
This Italian restaurant is just up from the quayside, so if you want to see the bridge lit up at night then head here for food first. It’s pretty affordable if you’re going for pizza or pasta, and is great for a family meal. Try: any of the pizzas. My favourites are the Isolana (tuna based) or Del Campo (vegetable based)
The Fat Hippo Underground
This is a post-exam celebration spot to head with friends. Think huge, juicy burgers, fries, and hands that will never be clean again. Try: the spicy bean burger, sweet potato fries, naughty shakes (go for the It’s Not Terry’s)
Cake Stories
Slightly further out, being in West Jesmond, but still only a 15-20 minute walk from Newcastle University campus. This little tearoom has light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, a mish mash of different cosy arm chairs, and a classy afternoon-tea feel without being too all-out cute. Try: Rooibos tea, cupcakes, the salted caramel brownie, the iced coffee.
A penguin themed fro-yo bar. What more do I need in my life? They also sell milkshakes of pretty much every flavour imaginable, and there is an array of toppings for your chosen flavour of frozen yoghurt. Go if only to see all of the penguins. Try: Fro-Yo on a summer’s day of course!
Brownie Bar


Located in Eldon Square, this is THE place to soothe a brownie craving. I spent more time than I should have here with a brownie and a cappuccino last year. Alongside more brownie flavours than is safe to be around, they do a monthly special. They also do amazing milkshakes apparently, and jars of mix to prepare your own brownies. Try: Maple-Pecan brownie, Nutella brownie, Salted Caramel Brownie, The Corker Cookie (cookie with a brownie in the centre).
Tea Sutra


This boho tea room and veggie/vegan eatery is located above Magic Box on Leazes Park Road, and believe me: it is like walking into a different world. One where they give you teapots shaped like camels and elephants, or if not this then a see-through pot, so you can get the most out of anything containing rose buds. Try: the hummus and veggie wrap, the raw chocolates.


BONUS: Where To Drink

The Botanist
A classy drinks spot by monument, the giant treehouse forming the bar and dome of fairy lights are a great way to start out the night. Then come the brilliantly coloured, fresh and flower/fruit based cocktails. Violet and Aramanth, or a Watermelon Sling are my recommendations- though for anyone going teetotal there are also non-alcoholic drinks that sound just as delicious (a rarity when it comes to drinks out I find- most places having a limit of a Virgin Mary or a No-jito)
Less classy and more fun than the above, the two-for-one deals on certain nights are a major selling point for this place (as is heated outdoor seating). Home to the infamous Cookie Monster Cocktail. And yes, it does taste like cookies. My personal choices would be In Love With The Coco (coconut and chocolate|), an English Garden Martini, Alco-ccino, or a Perfect Stormy Mojito.

‘Ernest’ – My Favourite Geordie Brunch Spot

‘Ernest is an independent cafe bar situated in the top end of the Ouseburn; we do our very best to serve up honest food, drink, music and art. We are open everyday 10am until late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinking and dancing.’
Even people in Newcastle, native Geordies, haven’t heard of this place. And that needs to change, because it is simply one of my favourite places to eat. One of my best friends lives literally next door to this place, I can see it from her bedroom window, and it’s a firm fixture that we head here for brunch post girls night. I chose this café-bar for my breakfast brunch last week. This place will be 10 minutes from me next year, and so it’s a good thing they do student discount…


Ernest serve good, honest food. They do all day breakfasts, vegan and vegetarian suitable food, pescetarian options, and some stunning meaty options too. The food is homemade, fresh, and local and seasonal where possible. I recommend the natural smoked haddock on sourdough with spinach and two poached eggs, the eggs eclipso (two poached eggs on slow cooked tomatoes and peppers with flatbread on the side), and most definitely the sweet potato fries. Their eggs are always perfectly cooked, with runny golden centres, and their fries are never greasy, the presentation in on point every single time. I have eaten a lot of sweet potato fries in my time, and these are THE BEST. Better than Pitcher and Piano, better Fat Hippo, and better than Giraffe. They’re the best I can get without making them myself (because I am slightly bias and love my smoked paprika and chilli on them)- they’re also one of the most liked pictures on my IG feed. The staff are happy to accommodate tastes: I hate hollandaise and so they always leave it off for me, and I prefer wholemeal or sourdough to white bread- of which you get a choice depending what they have in. If you take a look at the specials board you may be lucky enough to get your hands on a super food saturated salad, or the kippers on sourdough toast. I’m always tempted by the salads, but the kippers are huge, tender, and juicy. It’s an internal battle every bloody time. Another tempting topic is that of cakes. There are always cakes on the counter: coffee and walnut, carrot cake, scones, the most amazing looking brownies loaded with nuts, and gorgeously gooey blondies- they change every time I’m in. Unfortunately I’ve always been too stuffed to try even a bite, although believe me I have seriously considered buying one of everything. Coffees and teas. We must talk coffee and tea. There is a selection of teas written above the bar area, and there are some I’ve never tried before: pineapple and coconut being one. I’m stuck on the stinging mint one for now. If it’s not tea, then I’ll be ordering a cappuccino- again one of the loveliest cappuccinos I’ve ever tried. Ernest are also licenced, and serve a variety of different beverages to choose from later in the day. They do music nights, something my friend and I are definitely trying in the near future (she doesn’t know this yet).

Now, to the staff and the café itself. The staff are friendly- and not in that really annoying over-every-two-minutes way. They’re over to check your food is okay and magically alert to when you need them to appear, but aren’t going to ruin your meal by hovering. One time I visited there was a mistake made on my friends order, and they didn’t charge us for her meal at all. Which was brilliant considering it was virtually the same thing as the dish she’d originally chosen, but more expensive. The outside of Ernest is painted with a picture if Darth Vader holding (I believe) a tray with wine on it. Next to some buckets of colourful flowers. That should indicate what a quirky-cool place this is. If it doesn’t then get this: inside there is an eclectic mix of comfy squashy sofas, chairs, board games, bare light bulbs, disco balls, mirrors, a lime green wall or two, a cabinet of star wars figures, and a blow up kangaroo.

Overall this is a place to bring friends for a slap up meal, or a drink on an evening- I definitely feel it’s more of student and adult place due to the chilled out vibe. More so than somewhere to park a pram with a screaming kid inside. Although if your child is well behaved then maybe it could be perfect for you too. My point is that Ernest is most definitely student friendly. This student is making her way there on Friday to bid Newcastle farewell for the summer- with some of the finest food this city has to offer.

The Fat Hippo Underground: A Review

Located on Shakespeare Street, down some stairs and into the belly of Newcastle, is The Fat Hippo. Welcome to what could become one of my favourite places to get serious treat food. The Fat Hippo serve burgers, and not just your standard burgers; I am talking delicious beef, pork, chicken, and veggie burgers in brioche buns, with juices and sauces dripping from every inch of them. You can upgrade to sweet potato fries too. Can you see why I was sold? If not, then check out the “Naughty Shakes”: alcoholic milkshakes that taste dangerously virgin…

We chose to head to the hippo post drama assessment (we had to perform. It’s part of my creative writing degree. I have no idea why, don’t judge me). We needed to celebrate our release from rehearsing each and every week in order to have gotten our farcical choice of play en pointe (to be quite honest, I ended up having a lot of fun, and I’ll miss my drama crew). I had looked at the menu for this restaurant before, but had never quite managed to get there somehow.  It seemed appropriate that on a day we’d been thespians we should head to “Shakespeare Street” though. Now, recently I’ve been off meat. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but even chicken isn’t tempting me. I’ve been eating a mainly pescatarian diet, but there is no fish on this menu (obviously), which meant I would be sampling the veggie burgers they had on offer. I find that veggie/bean burgers are often not just bad, but really bad, and so it’s safe to say I was fairly sceptical.

When we arrived at The Fat Hippo, the first thing we were asked was “Have you booked?”. It was 5pm. It gets very busy here apparently. Thankfully there was a table we could use, but they needed it in about an hour and half. It wasn’t the best welcome from the staff, but at least we were given a table. Even if they did seem to keep hovering, we assumed in an attempt to hurry us up. But, I have to say that the service in general seemed fast, and not just a ploy to get us to leave. Burgers were coming out left, right, and centre, with surprising speed. First things first we ordered drinks: naughty shakes all round. I opted for the “It’s Not Terry’s” from the four on offer, which is a chocolate milkshake with Double Cointreau. Once you’ve tasted one of these, there is no going back, and they (like everything here) come in hefty portions. One of my friends chose the MilkyBar version, starring Baileys, Amaretto, and vanilla ice cream. The other two shakes are PB & Jack (peanut butter, Jack Daniels, honey, vanilla ice cream), or The Irish One (Jamesons, Kahula, espresso, vanilla ice cream).

The burgers are also immense- not for the faint hearted. I chose (with much trepidation) the Spicy Bean Burger, which comes with sweet chilli sauce. The other two veggie options were The Temple of Shroom (battered mushroom, Fat Hippo sauce, gherkin, cheese), or The Veggie Gastro (bean burger, sundried tomatoes, rocket, pesto mayo, mozzarella). Not fancying cheese or deep fried mushrooms, this seemed the best option. Plus it came with sweet chilli sauce. Well. I have to say that this could possibly be THE best bean burger I have experienced in my short life so far. It is also probably one of the best burgers, full stop, that I have experienced so far. It’s the Hippo’s own handmade recipe, is flavourful, and has just enough of a kick for all of you spice wimps out there. The sweet chilli sauce doesn’t detract from the flavour of the bean patty, and the texture isn’t like polystyrene. In fact it was just as juicy looking as the Texas and American beef burgers my three dining companions ordered. At least, all of our hands were just as dirty after we’d finished.

What about sides? Well, I can recommend the sweet potato fries. You all know that in my opinion nothing can been Ernest sweet potato fries, but these came in at about a 6 or 7/10 on the sweet potato fries scale. You can upgrade to these fries from normal for a little extra cost (I think around £1- don’t hold me to that though), or to skinny fries. I sampled the dirty skins that were shoved under my nose by my friends (double fried potato skins, hippo sauce, bacon bits- which I picked off, much to one of my fellow actors disgust); I picture these as an ideal hangover cure to be honest, if you’re someone who craves greasy and stomach lining food. The onion rings too made an appearance on our table, and again they aren’t particularly my thing. If you like your batter crisp and with that dripping just-out-of-the-fryer personality, then order them. If you like your rings slightly drier and with a higher onion: batter ratio opt for something else.

To sum it up, this is (and there’s quite a contrast in the things I’m about to propose) a great spot to take friends, your date on date night (if you can watch someone eat one of these burgers with all of the lack of finesse we did, then you may want to put a ring on that), or to pick up a hangover  cure. For the latter they even have Hangover 3 Chicken Burger. Just don’t do it too often- you may just end up resembling the coveted Hippo symbol emblazoned everywhere.
2-6 Shakespeare Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 6AQ.